Health benefits of bioflavonoids for your body, eyes and skin.

Antioxidants and bioflavonoids sources including citrus fruits, geen tea, grapeseed, bilberry and rutin.

Bioflavonoids

Flavonoid (also known as bioflavonoids) are a type of plant pigment, which produces yellow, red or blue pigmentation in flowers and protects them from attack by bugs and other predators.

Flavonoids are found in high quantities in certain fruits, herbs and vegetables, such as green tea (Camellia sinensis), citrus fruits (lemons, oranges and grapefruits, for example), in parsley, grape seeds and (fortunately!) in wine and dark chocolate.

In fact, most of the beneficial effects of all these foods have been attributed to their flavonoid compounds rather than their other nutrients.

What exactly do flavonoids do?

For humans, consuming flavonoids provides a whole host of benefits for the body, and the truth is that we really can’t live happily without them.

What these chemicals do above all is to provide a huge dose of antioxidant help to our internal systems. Flavonoids also have a low toxicity compared to other active plant compounds and they’ve been called “nature’s biological response modifiers” because they can help us react appropriately to viruses, carcinogens and allergens, by giving a powerful boost to the immune system.

That means that flavonoids exhibit anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties, because they protect against oxidative and free radical damage caused by pollution and the body’s normal metabolic processes. Free radicals are responsible for a lot of the damage done to the body by poisons such as cigarette smoke or drugs; and they’re one of the major factors that contribute to ageing. It’s true what they say: eating your fruit and vegetables every day, really does keep the wrinkles at bay!

More than just a pretty face

But flavonoids will help more than your looks. They’re just about indispensable for your insides, too.

Scientists are particularly excited about flavonoids because of their potential uses in the medical industry, in biomedical drugs.

Consumers are also starting to take a lot of notice of these natural wonder compounds, mainly because they look set to play an important role in the prevention and treatment of such common and devastating diseases as heart disease and cancer. In fact, flavonoids might be able to help treat a surprisingly wide-ranging variety of less deadly conditions, from water retention, bruising and cold sores, to weak blood vessels and cataracts.

Research is also taking a look into the possibility that they might be able to improve kidney function, particularly for diabetic people.

How do they work?

Over 5000 naturally occurring flavonoids have been characterized from various plants. You’ll often see them divided into categories that include anthocyanidins, isoflavones, flavonols, flavans, flavanones and flavones.

Some of the most well known flavonoids, for example, include hesperidin, rutin, citrus flavonoids, genistein (in soy) and quercetin (in onions).

Anthocyanidins are the kind found in bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and flavans are the sort of flavonoid that appears in tea and apples. As flavonoids are synthesized, they can also produce proanthocyanidins (tannins) and a bumper crop of other health-giving polyphenolics.

Let’s take a look at what some of them actually do in the body:

Quercetin:

This is a flavonol flavonoid that contains the sugar called rutin. It’s the most active of all the flavonoids and provides an ‘emergency quick response unit’ for any problems the body has with inflammation or allergic reaction.

It also helps out with the antioxident activity in the body and allows vitamin C to work more effectively. It can inhibit reverse transcriptase, which is part of the way retroviruses (such as HIV) spread around the body, and it can be used in the treatment of piles, varicose veins and bruises.

Polyphenols

These are certainly alpha one antioxidants; the kind that offer us greater antioxidant protection than even vitamins C and E.

They’re found in vast quantities in green tea, and may inhibit cancer by blocking the formation of cancer-causing compounds. The major polyphenols in green tea, for example, are epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), catechin, proanthocyanidins and epicatechin (see below).

Epicatechin

This one is the super-hero of the circulatory system and because it looks after the blood vessels, it’s particularly good for the health of the heart. It’s found in big doses in cocoa, which gives us all a superb excuse to eat lots of dark chocolate!

Oligomeric proanthocyanidins

Proanthocyanidins have a great many talents. Among their main skills is the ability to strengthen the blood vessels, seek out free radicals, and slow down the destruction of collagen (a vital protein found in skin, hair, teeth, bones, tissues and veins).

Be sure to keep your fruit and vegetable intake at a high level, to make the most of the gifts to your health that flavonoids give.

Health practitioners recommend getting at least five good sized portions of different fruit and vegetables every day. To be on the safe side, make sure you’re consuming enough flavonoids by taking a good quality supplement. It’s great to eat chocolate and drink wine, but the supplements will give you a super-dose of flavonoids, without adding inches to your waistline (or giving you a headache)!



Medical references: 107,108,109,110

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